Welcome to the Nursing Outlook Blog – “3 Questions” – Timely Interviews with Thought Leaders in Nursing and Health Care Policy

Healthcare of Our Veterans and Military

In 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden came together to launch Joining Forces, a nationwide initiative calling all Americans to rally around service members, veterans, and their families and support them through wellness, education, and employment opportunities. Despite these initiatives that have provided resources to those who served our country, their healthcare has been the subject of numerous headlines and ongoing discussions that warrant nurses’ attention.

In an effort to bring back the “joining forces” momentum – remembering why we did this in the first place and to show the progress along the way – Dr. Morrison-Beedy offers her insights about the special Nursing Outlook focus on military and veterans’ health care in the September 2016 special issue. This series of articles in NURSING OUTLOOK provides a spotlight on initiatives that have taken place with military and veterans’ health over the recent past years. Launched from the Jointing Forces Initiative and Restore Lives Conference at the University of South Florida, nursing educators, researchers and clinicians who shared their commitment and common challenges related to military and veterans’ health in the U.S. and globally, came together in 2015. These articles highlight the work of nurses on issues of concern for veterans and active duty service members and their families (see conference program here).

Dianne Morrison-Beedy, PhD, RN, WHNP, FAANP, FNAP, FAAN is a Professor of Nursing, Global Health and Public Health and past Senior Associate Vice President of the University of South Florida Health, as well as Dean of the College of Nursing. Her work in the area of veterans’ and military health nationally has now taken a global perspective as she has included related issues from other countries. She brought together the papers from the Joining Forces conference in the recent issue of NURSING OUTLOOK. We asked her to elaborate on the series by answering 3 Questions!

Veronica D. Feeg, PhD, RN, FAAN

We invite commentary that is thoughtful and provocative! Join the online dialogue!

dianne-morrison-beedy-600x400Dianne Morrison-Beedy, PhD, RN, WHNP, FAANP, FNAP, FAAN
Professor of Nursing, Global Health and Public Health, University of South Florida (USF)
Past Senior Associate Vice President of USF Health and
Dean, USF College of Nursing


Question 1. What was the impetus for a military and veteran focus special edition of Nursing Outlook?

To listen, click here.

The idea for the issue really was sparked several years ago, around 2012, when Joining Forces became a focus for our Nation. Joining Forces is a National initiative and it focused on education and wellness and employment for veterans. It was spearheaded by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden and it really was to support and honor American service members and their families. At that time over 600 colleges of nurses met this initiative head on, and developed curriculum, tool kits, research, webinars and veterans-focused programs.

In my role as the Senior Associate Vice President for USF Health and the Dean at the College of Nursing at the University of South Florida, I brought together leaders in those areas for what has become now a yearly Joining Forces to Restore Life conference. All these approaches were very much needed as there are over 22 million veterans of the US Armed Forces and in fact there is over a million residing in Florida, Texas and California.

So both those who have served and their family members are impacted from stressors of deployment, combat, separation, and frequent moves, as well as employment and education transitions. So it was in essence a time for nursing to do its part, and it was truly gratifying to see the overwhelming response from Nursing Academic Programs across the U.S. to the Joining Forces call.

Question 2. Why do you think this topic is so important to nursing at this time? 

To listen, click here.

Over the past several years since the Joining Forces kick-off, nursing academia has been moving these various initiatives forward. As is often the case in nursing, we are quietly making an impact on an individual, unit, or case by case basis. And I thought that editing a special edition issue highlighting just a few of the tremendous steps forward in these areas that have been led by nursing was important to both document as well as to provide an opportunity for us to talk more about these topics.

So I am very grateful for the opportunity for this interview and for serving as editor. And it was over the past few years because of my connections with Joining Forces and the military that I began to partner internationally on several veterans focused initiatives.

Committed partners can do great things together and the result was the International Joining Forces to Restore Lives conference held in 2015 in the UK.

Now it’s really what I saw there, what I experienced, what I learned, really what I felt could be summed up simply as “individuals who came together with a committed passion for making life better for active duty service members, veterans, and their families.”

We shared many of the same challenges and this conference allowed us to put our heads and our hearts together to come up with solutions, support, and strategies to find a path forward for those who have served and for those who are protecting all of us at this moment.

Question 3. What are the “take-home thoughts” you have for readers?

To listen, click here.

I think readers will be very pleased with this issue not only with the content that’s provided but with the ability to see other nursing academics and scientists who are doing work in the area and have the opportunity to connect with them.

We are a very diverse group of scholar clinicians but the common the thread among all of us is a passion and the commitment for active duty military, our veterans and their families.

So whether we’re examining pain management, trauma informed care, how service impacts family members, or reintegration of veterans once they return home, this issue brings together ideas and data and programs from global nursing leaders. The issue highlights both what we are doing and what we can do to meet the physical and the psychosocial needs of those in the military and strategies for education, clinical and scientific innovations.

It’s been a real pleasure serving as editor for this special edition, and even though we have joined forces, we still need to keep moving forward with what nursing can contribute to military and veterans’ health. And I hope this issue just highlights some of the ways that we are doing that.